Dietitian details proper portions to boost brain health

New research supports compelling reasons to eat some of the foods many of us already include in our diet.

"Certain components in blueberries, omega three fatty acids which are in fatty fish and choline rich foods like eggs are really important for brain health," said dietitian Patricia Bannan.

Bannan explained as we get older, stress and inflammation affect our cognitive abilities. But while antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds found in food have been shown to help, how do you know if you're getting enough to benefit?

"The European Journal of Nutrition found that in comparison to one cup of fresh blueberries a day, there was an improvement in cognitive function in older adults compared to the placebo," said Bannan.

It's a tasty fruit easily thrown in yogurt, salad or a smoothie.

"In terms of omega three fatty acids, you're looking at the benefit of research studies, about 1,000 milligrams of DHA alone or DHA and EPA combined," Bannan said.

Those are the omega threes you'll find in fatty fish. Three ounces of fish, like salmon, offers 1,000 milligrams of those healthy fats responsible for brain development and function.

Choline is a nutrient that helps build neurotransmitters that in turn helps us store short-term memory. The RDA for choline is 500 milligrams a day. There are 150 milligrams in one egg, specifically the yolk.

As a health expert, Bannan doesn't advocate eating more than three eggs a day, but there are other foods that can help boost choline, like:

"Two eggs, a cup of edamame, a cup of yogurt, a cup of quinoa and three ounces of chicken," said Bannan.

"Are you going to get the amount you need every day? Maybe not, but they're definitely foods to put in your diet as much as you can," Bannan said.

There are also compelling studies done on including nuts, seeds and even the spice turmeric, but set amounts have not clearly been established. Bannan recommends about an ounce of nuts or seeds which would be equivalent to a handful.
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